HOOK AND FUR: 16 million fish for lakes' opening day
Monday, April 17, 2017 12:44 PM
One of the state’s most popular outdoor recreational event is about to take place at the end of this month.
April 22 is the opening of the 2017-18 lowland fishing season, and although almost half of the state’s lowland lakes are open to fishing year-round, for many people, the fourth Saturday in April is the annual opening of the season.
Thousands of anglers are expected to turn out for the opener. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has been stocking lakes across the state with more than 16 million trout and kokanee that include 3.8 million catchable-size trout and 370,000 larger trout averaging about one pound each.
The opener also marks the start of the WDFW's annual lowland lake fishing derby, which runs through Oct. 31. Anglers who catch one of 1,000 tagged fish can claim prizes provided by licensed dealers and other sponsors across the state. The total value of prizes is more than $25,000. To participate, anglers must have an annual freshwater or combination fishing license valid through March 31, 2018. For a list of lakes with prize fish and details on how to claim prizes, visit http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/derby//.
Also, new anglers are encouraged to check the Fishing Washington feature at the department’s website for details on lake fishing opportunities. The map-based web page includes fishing information by county, lake and fish species throughout the state.
A reminder: Anglers parking at WDFW water-access sites are required to display on their vehicles the WDFW Vehicle Access Pass that is provided free with every annual fishing purchased. The passes are transferable between two vehicles.
Razor clams, turkeys also in April
The lowland lake season isn't the only opening day this month. Other outdoor activities coming up include a tentative razor clam dig tentatively scheduled at Copalis and Mocrocks beaches April 12-16. Also, the general spring turkey hunt opens April 15 for hunters of all ages and runs through May 3.
Rivers don't runneth over with fish
River fishing has been austere throughout most of the state this past week and especially in the lower Columbia, where spring chinook fishing has been discouraging. Joe Hymer of the WDFW reported only 22 adult spring chinook have been counted at Bonneville Dam through April 3. The previous low was 25 fish through April 3, 1949. Also, flows continue to be high at Bonneville Dam with flows of 445,300 cubic feet per second (c.f.s.) being reported. There has never been flows above 400,000 c.f.s. on April 3 since at lest 1950.
Bank angling on the Cowlitz River has been far from exceptional, and boat angling only fair at best.
Samplings during March 27 to April 2 counted 138 bank anglers with three spring chinook and 10 steelhead kept. Eighty-six boat anglers kept two spring chinook, 34 steelhead and released two steelhead. During the same week, Tacoma Power recovered 206 winter steelhead and 11 spring chinook during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator. Flows were 14,500 cubic feet per second on April 3 with a water temperature of 43.5 F.
Bob Brown lives in Roy and is a freelance outdoors writer. He can be contacted at email@example.com.